Parents of victim in Sandusky case say their son may never overcome scars
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They watched their son go from a normal pre-adolescent with academic struggles to a bitter, angry teenager who tested their authority and patience.
Until former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted last November on dozens of counts of child sexual abuse, they didn't know why.
The mother still remembers her son's haunting response when she asked him late last year about the four years he spent as one of Mr. Sandusky's favorites.
He had accompanied the coach to football games and on out-of-town trips -- things she had thought were nothing but positive influences in her son's life.
"Yeah, Mom. I'm a part of it," he told her of the abuse case.
Now a 28-year-old retail store worker, her son was the first to testify against Mr. Sandusky during the two-week trial, which ended Friday with Mr. Sandusky's conviction on 45 of 48 charges, including all of those in her son's case.
The couple are happy that Mr. Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in jail, but they wonder if their son will ever be able to overcome the scars left behind.
"I don't know that he is ever going to have what it takes to be successful in terms of having that trust level with anybody," said his stepfather. "There's no trust."
Their son met Mr. Sandusky in 1996 when he was an elementary student in Snow Shoe, a small town near Penn State.
During a shower on a bowl trip, he recalled Mr. Sandusky caressing him and pushing down on his shoulders, which he interpreted as a request for oral sex. He resisted, and Mr. Sandusky threatened: "You don't want to go back to Snow Shoe, do you?" he testified.
Mr. Sandusky sent him what he described as "creepy love letters" and made him feel like he was Mr. Sandusky's girlfriend, he testified. In one letter, Mr. Sandusky wrote: "I know that I have made my share of mistakes. I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart."
He didn't tell anyone about the abuse because he didn't want to lose all the special attention and perks, he testified. He broke off ties in 2000. He was "getting sick over what was happening" to him.
When they found him with pills, they took him to a psychologist, his stepfather recalled. But the abuse didn't come out then, just the anger. Investigators found him through a photo in Sports Illustrated that accompanied a story on Mr. Sandusky's charitable work, learned of the abuse and had him testify.
What he has found hardest, his parents said, is that other boys who came after him were victimized, too.
His parents, however, said they feel nothing but pride that their son had the courage to confront his abuser in court.
"He has had a bit of a tough life," his mother said. "I hope he can start getting better now."
First Published June 24, 2012 12:00 am